Guinea Pigs are wonderful little pets, and who can resist their sweet little squeaks? Read on for important information on the proper care of your guinea pig.
Diet: Pelleted food for guinea pigs has some Vitamin C added, but it's never enough, so it's recommended to feed a source of Vitamin C daily. Oxbowhay.com makes a good daily Vitamin C chewable tab. Alternatively, you can feed a few leaves of kale and/or green pepper slices every day to provide natural vitamin C. Don't use oranges. After full grown, limit pellets to ¼ cup per day. Guinea pigs get Scurvy if not given enough Vitamin C.
Free choice (ie as much as they want to eat) of timothy hay. oxbowhay.com or buy Oxbow Hay at Pet Smart. Make sure the hay is soft, avoid stems and rough hay to prevent wounds to the mouth.
No more than 1 baby carrot per day. Carrots are high in vegetable sugars which cause elevated blood sugar levels and can lead to overgrowth of harmful bacteria.
No cereal grains i.e. seed mixture toys, crackers, Cherrios, which cause overgrowth of harmful bacteria that produce toxins and can cause sudden death. Avoid yogurt drop treats.
Limit fruits to ½ grape, 1 blueberry, tiny amount of apple.
Bedding: Use Care Fresh bedding. Scoop out soiled spots and refresh. Clean entire cage once a week. Guinea pigs produce a lot of stool and urine.
Cage: Plastic bottom with sides that are about 4” deep. Guinea pigs like to kick up their bedding and without sides, it's a mess all around their cage. Have a box or plastic igloo for them to hide in.
Water bottle – fresh water daily. Don't add vitamins to the water. They drink a lot of water and like to spit into the sipper tube, so watch carefully that the bottle is working well and not clogged.
They are susceptible to heat stroke.
Guinea pigs are very fast, be prepared if you put them down on the ground. Kids like to take them outside and play with them in the grass, but they can take off and escape, get under decks, into other people's yards, etc. Have a safe cage for outside.
Trim nails once a month.
Diseases: Skin mites causing scratching and hair loss; overgrowth of the molars; upper respiratory infections and pneumonia; scurvy. There are specific antibiotics to use for guinea pigs and we use a promotility drug called metoclopramide or Reglan to reduce the change of disruption of the normal bacterial flora which can lead to harmful bacterial overgrowth and toxin production. Any guinea pig on antibiotics that doesn't want to eat or is lethargic or has loose droppings may have a problem, so stop antibiotics and call your vet. Feeding a sick Guinea pig is the same as with a sick rabbit – Oxbow Critical Care Formula, fresh carrot tops, soft hay.
Giving medications: Wrap Guinea pig in small towel like swaddling a baby. Use a small syringe and enter the mouth from the side behind the front teeth, give slowly to allow swallowing. We compound medications in either FlavorX formula or carrot baby food.
Special considerations when breeding guinea pigs or preventing your kid's guinea pig from becoming pregnant: If a female has not had her first litter by 6 months of age, the pelvic bones will fuse and she will have to have the pigs delivered by C-section.